Bicyclist Killed By Bus: Our Response

A bicyclist, 22-year-old Eric Michael Hunt, was killed in Boston yesterday in a crash involving an MBTA bus. While the investigation is ongoing, and we do not know the cause or circumstances of this crash, we do know that the intersection where the crash occurred is a mess, with unprotected Green Line tracks in the road, narrow lanes overlapping the tracks, heavy turning traffic, poor sightlines, and lots of on-street parking. And there are lots of bicyclists in the area. In fact, there is a bicyclist in the middle of the intersection in Google Streetview, showing exactly the dangers faced by bikers at that location. We’ve contacted the City of Boston to open a conversation about that intersection.

Another thing we know is that bus drivers do not always seem to place the highest priority on bicyclist safety, as any biker knows who has been passed too closely and then cut off as the bus swerves to the curb. We think the T needs to have a much stronger program to educate bus drivers how to safely interact with bicyclists, and we’ve contacted the T’s new general manager Richard Davey to urge him to take action (and we offered our assistance to help him do so).

While crashes do happen, when they are caused by bad roads or bad decisions this should be unacceptable to everyone, and we need to make sure that the City of Boston and the MBTA (and more broadly, the Commonwealth, all the municipalities, and all the transit agencies) do more to prevent these tragedies.

Our best wishes go out to Eric’s family we will keep you in our thoughts during this trying time.

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11 Responses to Bicyclist Killed By Bus: Our Response

  1. Marianna April 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    Thanks, MassBike. It’s at least a small consolation that something is being done.

  2. Karl April 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    We’ll be putting up a ghost bike along with some candles at that intersection tonight around 11pm if anyone wants to show.

  3. Rick Hill April 9, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Very sad. Every effort should be made to educate drivers and MBTA about watching for cyclists. However, if the Globe article is correct in stating that this cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet, shame on him. Not sure whether it would have made a difference or not, but I cringe when I see cyclists without helmets – having had 3 crashes myself – one of which would have been near fatal had I not had a helmet on.

  4. geoff April 9, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Very sad, and I hope it doesn’t take a cyclist’s death to overhaul all the awful intersections in the city.

    As for the bike &bus education, I would recommend this video, produced by the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority:

    No need to make a video when Chicago has done a mighty fine job.

    My condolences to any friends and family.

  5. John W. April 9, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Thanks for the response to this tragedy, and I hope this is the beginning of a concerted effort to improve bike-ped infrastructure and safety now. The lack of a cyclist/pedestrian-specific training program at the MBTA is shameful. I’ve been hit by one bus and cut off by many others. It’s terrifying. And while the MBTA operators have an accelerator-first driving style, so do other bus operators, government operators, and taxi drivers. Bicyclist and pedestrian safety training should be mandated by the state and included in all driver training courses.
    I have trouble calling Eric’s death an accident because it was totally avoidable. The city is aware of its most dangerous intersections, and the Bike Czar Nicole Freedman has told me so. They have known for years. The solution so far: intersections have been marked as “Dangerous” on its bike map; major streets have been colored red, and those roads have been declared safe for “Advanced” cyclists, people comfortable navigating “complex” intersections. The intersection that killed Eric is marked “Dangerous”, and has been for some time. It’s an intersection that cannot be fixed with a bike lane.
    I hope MassBike has a good strategy to force the city and state to take action to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure quickly, and I hope that people flock to advocacy organizations and community groups to ensure that improvements are made because, unfortunately, Geoff, many cyclists have died already, and the overhaul hasn’t happened.
    See you on the streets.

  6. janice April 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Apropos of the T’s Globe quote that “no one has complained about the Huntington Ave. trolley tracks,” here is my complaint to them regarding JP tracks:

    my letter:

    hello – i am writing to address the MBTA’s comment in the Boston Globe coverage of Eric Hunt’s death that the T has “never received any complaints about the trolley tracks.”

    Here is one.

    Seven years ago I was bicycling along Centre St. in Jamaica Plain. A bus was at a bus stop and to go around it I had to cross the trolley tracks. You guessed it, my tire got stuck and I kept going, flying off my bike which remained in the track. I ended up fracturing my shoulder and knee, with a black eye to boot. Luckily the bus had not left the stop. [The bus driver was very kind and asked if I needed help.]

    So there is my complaint. Now you have one. Seems rather silly to have to send one as I imagine there is very little that can be done except to remove all parked vehicles that are next to trolley tracks, to create a bike lane. Or to remove the trolley tracks, which seem as much a feature of the street as the other vehicles and the asphalt itself.

    Sincerely, Janice Zazinski

  7. Matt April 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    In addition to doing educational outreach with T drivers, I’d like to see MassBike engage with Masco (LMA Shuttle) drivers. When I commuted by bike from Somerville to the Longwood Area (near the site of Eric’s fatal accident), I routinely had problematic and potentially hazardous encounters with inattentive shuttle drivers.

  8. DavidM April 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    @geoff: That Chicago bus/bike video is great; thanks. Having watched that will help me get along better with bus drivers as I commute by bike. It would be nice if I could know that the bus drivers had seen the same video so that I’d know we were following the same choreography. Many MBTA drivers seem already to be doing the bus/bike dance in the recommended ways. I get the sense that they notice and appreciate bikers who observe the taboo against passing a bus on the right.

  9. Chris June 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    If you pan left, there is a jaywalker in the intersection in that Google street view as well. The total lawlessness on our streets will continue to lead to tragedies like this (not to mention hundreds of daily altercations) until the police get serious about enforcing traffic laws.

  10. Chris June 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    And the jaywalker is directly in the cyclist’s path.


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